• Published 23rd Sep 2021
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The Only Mark That Matters - CocktailOlive

The story of Radish Root, a pony with obscene cutie marks.

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112. The Denial

“Hey, Radish, there you are,” said Shoofly, finding Radish trotting off the training field.

“What’s up, Shoofly?”

“There’s something you… uh… well, see, I heard this rumor…”

“I think I can guess what it is.”

“Oh. I guess you’ve probably heard it a lot by now.”


“Well, I just wanted you to know. We all just… you know, we’d all support you if you did it. Or if you didn’t do it. Either way.”

“Thanks. I appreciate that.”

“Would you ever actually do it?”

“I just don’t know.”

“Would you actually do it?” Hazy Shade asked Light Fantastic.

“I just don’t know, Hazy Shade.”

Light sat back in a booth at Bold Roast’s, holding a pint of mead in her hooves. It was warm now.

“I don’t want to tell you how to live your life,” said Hazy Shade, “but ever since you started seeing Radish, you’ve seemed, you know, happier.”

“Really? It’s noticeable?”

“It’s a bunch of little things. You used to get so pissed off whenever Splash Page started giving his takes on comic book stuff. Now you just sort of shrug and let it go.”

“I mean, he’s always going to be wrong, so why bother getting worked up?”

“And Underglaze has a huge exhibition coming up. Before, you’d be all grumpy that he’s getting so much attention for his cube things. I haven’t heard you complain once.”

“Well, there are worse things in Canterlot than Underglaze’s cubes. I still don’t get the appeal. Are you saying dating Radish has chilled me out?”

“I think so.”

“Is that such a good thing? Happy ponies make for boring artists.”

“Then you think marrying him would make you happy?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, why wouldn’t it?”

“Then you want to.”

Light Fantastic fidgeted with the glass of mead in her hooves. She looked at the café’s lights reflecting in its surface, staring at them until they taxed her retinas and she closed her eyes, seeing the red and blue afterimages in the darkness.

“I want to, Hazy.”

“Wow. That’s huge.”

“But there’s… a problem.”

“Oh no. What?”

She opened her eyes, and looked at Hazy Shade, sullenly.


“Her? Her who?”


“Oh, her? That’s a problem?”


“Well, what can you do about her?”

“I have to at least talk to her.”

“Yeesh. And say what?”

She swallowed her mead in one gulp. She made a short chuckle.

“Oh, whatever you’re imagining, it’s going to be a lot worse.”

Princess Celestia sat regally on her throne, flanked by two high-ranking guards and her court stenographer, Cricket. She was nearing the end of her petitions session for the day, during which any Equestrian citizen could stand before her with questions or concerns about how the kingdom was run. She had just finished with a builder who had complaints about gazebo regulations, and now checked her schedule to see what was next.

“Next on the docket… oh! Hello, Light Fantastic!”

Light Fantastic calmly stepped forward into the center of the throne room. She bowed.

“Hello, Princess Celestia. Good day to you.”

“It says here you’d like to lodge a complaint about Midtown weather scheduling?”

“No, your highness, that was just a lie to get in here. I needed to talk to you about something personal.”

The guards raised their eyebrows and tightened their grips on their spears. Cricket stopped typing.

“Ma’am, should I…?”

“Just a moment, Cricket. Light, what is it?”

Light Fantastic lifted her head and looked Princess Celestia in the eyes.

“Please have sex with Rad.”

Celestia buried her face in her hooves. The guards relaxed. Cricket stared at her stenograph.

“Ma’am, should I…?”

“Continue transcribing, Cricket. This needs to be on the official record for once.”

Celestia cleared her throat. “First of all, no. And second, I thought we were all past this.”

“I thought so, too. But I think he’s about to ask me to marry him.”

The guards smiled. Cricket smiled. Celestia looked surprised, then smiled, as well.

“That’s wonderful. Congratulations!”

“But that means he’s giving up on having sex with you.”

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?”

“But he has to. It’s his cutie mark. I don’t know how or why, but it’s his destiny. I can’t deny him that. I can’t let him go his whole life wondering what could have been.”

“Light, Radish has moved on. He’s over me.”

“He says he is. But he still dreams about you, you know. He says your name in his sleep.”

“I know. He told me. But dreams are just fantasies, Light. You’re his reality. You’re who he chooses to wake up to.”

“But he’s just settling for me. Remember Sky? She made him come here to pursue you, even though she was falling for him. I used to think that was stupid of her- that if you love someone, you’d never let them go.”

Light touched her face. Her eyes were tearing up.

“But that’s not how love works, is it? Love is selfless. It means you want what’s best for them, even if it’s someone else. And I love him so much. Please, just one night with him. Just one hour, even.”

Celestia looked aside. “I cannot do that, Light.”

“Don’t you want to see what will happen when you finally have sex with him? The whole world’s been curious about it for years. You can put an end to this big mystery.”

“I’m not going to have sex with someone just to see what happens.”

“Please. You know how your face looks on them, right? Doesn’t it look amazing? Don’t you want that?”

“Light, I’m a hundred times his age.”

“Big whoop! You’re that much older than everyone!”

“I knew him as a child!”

“For like five minutes! Then he grew up. And he grew up handsome. Don’t you think he’s good-looking?”

Cricket looked up at Celestia, waiting for her next line. Celestia sighed.

“You don’t know what you’re asking of me, Light. It won’t fix any problems, it will only make new ones.”

“Please. He’s good at it. He’s muscular. Powerful. But he can be really gentle! He’s a cuddler. And when he holds you, you feel so safe and warm.”

Cricket typed furiously. Her face was getting flush.

“And in case you’re wondering, he’s got a really-”

“Stop! Not you, Cricket. Light, let’s say I did. What happens when the next stallion shows up with cutie marks of me? Do I just sleep with him, too? What if a hundred ponies show up at my doorstep with me on their flanks? Shall I just lie back and think of Equestria for each one of them? And what if you meet a stallion with a cutie mark bearing you? Are you going to have sex with him, just to see what happens? And if some girl shows up at your wedding with a mark featuring Radish, will you let them sleep together, for destiny? Light, I’m not setting this precedent. It ends here and now.”

Light sank to her knees. She sniffled.

“Please. You’re gorgeous. You’re tall. Your hair does that- that- thing that it does. You’re elegant. And wise. And powerful. And kind. Even your voice is beautiful. And what am I? I’m just a skinny little pegi. I could never compete with all that. No mare can. But if I can’t compete with you, I can at least let him get you out of his system. Whatever happens after that, happens.”

“But he’s chosen you,” said Celestia. “He loves you. He wants to marry you. You’ve already won, Light.”

“I won. But Rad is stuck with a consolation prize.”

“Light, listen. I’m sorry. This is something I cannot do. But I wish you and Radish a long and happy life together. I don’t do this for many, but if you’d like me to perform the ceremony, I’d be happy to.”

Light held herself and looked at the floor.

“Yeah, okay,” she mumbled. “Thanks.”

Light numbly stepped out of the palace into the midday sun.

Celestia’s palace. Celestia’s sun. It’s all her world, we’re just milling about it until it’s our time to leave it. My boyfriend belongs to her, even though she doesn’t want him. What does that make him? What does that make me?

She walked down the front steps, running out of steam as she reached the bottom. She just stopped and sat down, unable to move. She heard hoofsteps approaching behind her. Cricket stepped up beside her.

“I’m just a stenographer,” she said softly, gazing out at the crowds milling about the front commons. “I’m not supposed to comment or act on things I hear in there. But Major Root is always nice to the staff. He greets us all by name. Treats us with the same respect as he would the princesses.”

“He always said that ‘respect is the currency of the plains’.”

“And of the palace. That’s why I want to help Radish. There’s this griffon trader that’s been coming into Rye Stubble’s all this week. He’s been saying some interesting things about cutie marks. You might want to talk to him.”

“Thanks, Cricket.”

Light found the griffon in Rye Stubble’s, drinking and complaining about the potency of pony drinks. She bought him a double to start him talking.

“Yeah, an uncharted town way out there. All the ponies had the same butt stamp. An equal sign. At first I thought it was a town for math nerds, but apparently they all traded in their old marks for the same one.”

“How is that possible?”

“I dunno how booty marks work. I just stopped by to trade, and their mayor, or whatever, shooed me away. She said I didn’t have anything they needed.”

“Did they seem happy like that?”

“Yeah, it was wall-to-wall smiles and singalongs there. Bit creepy to me, but I get that’s how pony folk roll. Togetherness and whatnot.”

“Could you find it again? Mark it on a map?”

“Yeah. I could.”

“For another drink?”

“Well, I’ve built up a bit of a tab here.”

“I‘ll take care of it.”

Light entered Radish’s palace quarters. He slipped what looked like a catalog under a training manual as she approached him.

“Hey, Rad?”

“Hi, Light. What’s up?”

“I’m, uh, going to be out of town for a while. I heard about this sort of… artists’ retreat thing… that I think I should check out.”

“Oh? Okay.”

“The whole thing might be a waste of time. But if it’s everything I’ve heard it is… well, it could be huge.”

“For your career?”

“Uh, for my future. Definitely.”

“All right.” Radish hugged her. “Enjoy your retreat. But when you get back, how about we have a special night out together?”

“Yeah. I’d like that.” Light kissed him firmly, then leaned down to whisper at his cutie mark. “Sorry, princess. You should have taken the offer.”

“What’s that, Fan?”


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